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Featured Reviews

Squawking Magpie 2013 ‘Platinum’ Merlot, Cabernets and Syrah

31 October,2017
The ‘Squawking Magpie’ brand was born out of Gavin Yortt’s passion for Hawke’s Bay wine. One of the pioneers in the Gimblett Gravels with the ‘Irongate’ vineyard established in 1981, he planted the 4 ha ‘Woodlands’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels in 1995 for his own label, this superseded by a joint venture 20 ha vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels in 1999. This latter vineyard now supplies practically all his needs for the premium Gimblett Gravels bottlings which figures around 2,000 cases of a total of 10,000 under the broader Squawking Magpie brand. Around 100-150 tonnes of fruit go towards Gavin’s wines annually, with the very experienced Jenny Dobson as his winemaker, using the Sacred Hill facilities.

I thought the ‘SQM’ limited edition ultra-premium wines were pretty much the top for Squawking Magpie. I was extremely impressed the 2013 bottlings of Cabernets/Merlot, Merlot/Malbec and Syrah, scoring them all 19.0/20 or higher (click here to see my reviews). The 2013 growing season was described by Gavin as a "true Goldilocks season” when everything was "just right”. The 2013 ‘SQM’ wines are the best Squawking Magpie bottlings I have tasted.

However, Gavin has used the ‘Platinum’ nomenclature with a number of his top-end wines in the past, and sometimes tied with the ‘SQM’ releases, but in 2013, there is a trio of reds that are placed ever higher than the ‘SQM’ 2013s I tasted in October 2015. These are the straight ‘Platinum’ Merlot, Cabernets and Syrah, with a production of only 300 bottles of each. They are priced at $100.00 per bottle, higher than the ‘SQM’ wines. They are only available directly from Squawking Magpie Wines. I review these extremely limited ultra-premium reds here. They are all extremely tight and bound, and need time to open in character, but their inherent quality is very clear. These are fabulous wines for cellaring.

A postscript: The next night, all three wines had opened up and showed a significant improvement.  Aeration will help these wines in their youth.  If I were to score the wines again, their ratings would be even higher, but I cannot change my methodology.  All of the wines I review are scored in a similar time frame, that being in the first hour or so of them being poured into the glass.


Squawking Magpie ‘Platinum’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Dark, deep, impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour, very youthful in appearance. The nose is beautifully refined with fragrant, aromatic notes of black and dark-red plums with black berried fruits and subtle notes of dark herbs, the nose unfolding iron-earth elements, a steely freshness, revealing gentle, lifted, spicy oak. Full bodied, the palate is rich and sweetly concentrated with intense fruit flavours of ripe black plums and blackberry fruit, along with plum and liquorice elements, unveiling spices and sweetly aromatic and nutty oak. The flavours open to show dark herbs entwined with iron-earth complexities. The fruit is supported by considerable structure, the tannins fine-grained and powdery. The flavours carry to a long and sustained finish, blossoming in richness. This is a full, richly concentrated Merlot blend with layers of ripe black fruits with plum and liquorice, spices and iron-earth complexities. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 10-12+ years. A blend of 86% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc, from the estate vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged 24 months in 30% new oak. 300 bottles made. 19.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $100.00

Squawking Magpie ‘Platinum’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernets 2013

Blended Red from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Very dark, near impenetrable black-red colour with a slightly lighter edge with purple hues. The nose is very tightly bound and concentrated with a firm and intensely packed core of ripe blackberry fruit with black plums and blackcurrants. The nose is refined in expression and has richness with poise, showing a steely, mineral edge. This is still taut and unyielding, but aeration releases a refined layering of blackcurrants and cassis. Full-bodied, the palate has rich, concentrated and intense flavours of ripe blackcurrant fruit with blackberries and cassis liqueur, fine aromatic herbs and subtle iron-earth elements. The mouthfeel is beautifully vibrant and bright, and grows in richness, freshness and energy. The palate possesses very fine-grained tannin extraction, the structure refined, but with considerable grip and texture. The acidity lends lovely vitality and tension, and the wine carries to a very long, powerful finish of blackcurrants, blackberries and cassis. This is a very rich and tightly bound, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon blend with vibrant blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, and refined tannin grip and structure, and great length. Match with grilled and roasted lamb or beef dishes over the next 10-15+ years. A blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc from estate vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged 24 months in 35% new oak. 300 bottles made. 19.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $100.00

Squawking Magpie ‘Platinum’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Full, impenetrable black-red colour, with purple hues on the edge. The nose is very tightly bound and concentrated with restrained aromas of ripe blackberry fruit with hints of dark raspberries and violet florals, with spices and liquorice notes entwined with steely minerals and iron-earth elements. The concentration of the fruit is remarkable. Full-bodied, the palate is taut and densely packed with ripe flavours of blackberries, black plums, Asian spices and liquorice, with suggestion of violet and black florals. The flavours are tightly bound and yet to emerge fully. The fruit has lovely richness and plenty of underlying energy and vibrancy, revealing lifted oak and iron-earth and mineral detail. The fruit richness is balanced by considerable fine-grained, flowery tannin extraction, and the wine flows with power and linearity to a very long, sustained finish of spices and liquorice. This is a very taut and youthfully bound Syrah with deeply concentrated ripe blackberry fruit with spicy plum and liquorice layers on a bright, very fine-grained and structured palate with power and line, and a long, sustained finish. Match with slow-cooked game meats over the next 10-15 years. 100% Syrah from estate vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels, fully destemmed and fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged 24 months in 35% new oak. 300 bottles made. 19.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $100.00
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